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Posts Tagged ‘Peace’

A Prayer for the People of the Land

May 14, 2018 1 comment

A Prayer for the People of the Land
By Rabbi Micah Streiffer and Rabbi Judy Schindler

As Jews, today we celebrate the anniversary of the secular date on which Israel’s Independence was declared, May 14, 1948.

On this day, seven decades ago, a modern day miracle was born. On this day, our people danced in the streets and cried tears of joy. “At last, we have come home: a people free in its land.”

western-wall-dome-rock-23617723On this day, once again, we rejoice in the success of the Jewish state. Her culture and technology; her wisdom and learning; the entrepreneurial spirit that inspires her to continue to build and grow.

And yet, we lament that our people’s joy has come at the expense of another people’s suffering. What Jews witnessed as a nes, a miracle, Palestinians called nakba, a catastrophe.

The midrash records that when the Israelites were freed from Egyptian slavery, as the advancing army drowned in the sea, the angels rejoiced. God called out to them, “How can you sing for joy when My creatures are suffering?”

Today, once again, we look upon our homeland with mixed emotions.

Joy commingled with sadness
Hope commingled with fear
Excitement commingled with trepidation.

An embassy moves. A country celebrates its milestone.
A people protests. Borders are threatened. Casualties mount.

Healing is longed for.

 

Mi shebeirach avoteinu v’imoteinu

May the one who blessed our ancestors

Avraham/Ibrahim

Hajar and Sara

Yitzhak and Isma’il

Hu y’varech et kol toshvei eretz kodsheinu

Please bless all the people who share our holy land

From Dan to Beer Sheva

From Ramla to Ramallah

From Al Quds to Hevron

From Yerushalayim to Al-Khalil

 

May they live in freedom.

May they know security.

May they enjoy sovereignty.

May they taste peace.

Amen.

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Categories: Israel Tags: , ,

Who’s Afraid of a Big, Bad Flag?

August 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Last month, at the Chicago Dyke March (an annual LGBT Pride parade), several Jewish marchers were expelled from the march because they carried flags with Stars of David, reminiscent of the flag of Israel. The organizers of the march defended the move, declaring that that “Zionism is an inherently white-supremacist ideology” and that the flag of Israel is linked inextricably with “violent and discriminatory practices.”

The Jewish community, rightfully and understandably, went up in arms about it. Not only is a Star of David not the same as an Israeli flag, but the Israeli flag is not a symbol of imperialism or racism. It is the flag of the only Jewish state. It is the emblem of a people with legitimate national aspirations. It is the symbol of an extraordinary entity that sits at the centre of Jewish identity worldwide. Has Israel always been perfect? Of course not – even those of us who love the Jewish state have critical things to say about some of her policies and actions. But we can love Israel and carry its flag while holding a nuanced understanding of the country and what it represents.

Now the Jewish community is once again up in arms about a flag. Only this time, the tables are turned. Last week, Camp Solomon Schechter, a Jewish camp in Washington state connected with the Conservative Movement, welcomed a delegation from Kids 4 Peace, an interfaith initiative that brings together Israeli and Palestinian youth from Jerusalem to build connections, friendships, and peace. When the delegation arrived, the camp welcomed them by raising a Palestinian flag alongside the Israeli and American ones for the sake of a “teachable moment.”

The reaction to that move was so virulent and angry – some even accused the camp of abetting terrorism or being anti-Israel – that Camp Solomon Schechter almost immediately removed the flag and issued an apology for the “sadness and anger” that it caused.

I'll be the first to admit: I don't get it. Last month we were angry because our flag wasn’t being viewed with the nuance it deserved, but this month we’re angry because we can only view the Palestinian flag as a symbol of terrorism? Yes, the Palestinian flag is flown by terrorists who have done awful things. Yes, it was raised over the Temple Mount last week in a statement of defiance against Israel. These things are true, and deeply challenging. But what is also true is that a group of young people arrived as peacemakers and bridge-builders, and that they view that flag as a symbol of their legitimate national aspirations.

Here’s what Kids 4 Peace said about it on their blog:

To some, the Palestinian flag evokes the failure of past negotiations, continued hostility toward Israel, and a feeling that there is no partner for peace.  At the same time, the Palestinian youth who came to camp are precisely those peace leaders who are reaching out to work with Israelis, to counter incitement, and build a new future on a foundation of mutual respect and understanding…. It is wrong to view all Palestinians as enemies of Israel or the Jewish people.  That’s why Kids4Peace came to camp in the first place.

Flags are symbols. They only carry the meaning we assign them. As a Jew who loves Israel and who still believes in the 2-state solution, I want to encourage those who wish to build bridges, and to view their flag as a symbol of reconciliation rather than an emblem of war and hatred. Camp Solomon Schechter raised that flag in order to teach its campers about peace, understanding, and the possibility that we human beings can see beyond our differences. The organizers of the Chicago Dyke March could have learned a thing or two from them.

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